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July 24, 2008

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Jay Higgins

Jose,

To add weight to your observations. I just spent the last few weeks buying advertising for my upcoming consumer shows. After reviewing my customer surveys from the past five years we have found that our newspaper advertising has become less and less effective in reaching our target market of females 18-35 years old.

In 2002, 52.3% of the people surveyed stated that they hear (or read) about our event from their local newspaper. Back then we were spending approximately 50% of our advertising budget on newspapers.Today, the same survey showed that only 19.2% of our attendees found out about our shows via the local newspaper and we were still spending around 50% of our advertising budget on newspapers.

Therefore, one must conclude that newspapers have become a less effective tool in reaching 18-35 year old females over the past five years. Business like ours are forced to look at different media to cost effectively get our message out. If this trend continues, which by all measures seems certain, one can then project that within five years the chances of females who are now 13 years old picking up and reading a tradition print newspaper when they reach 18 years of age more of a fluke then a developed habit.

So, unless newspapers quickly figure out a way to attract the kids of today and create for them a reading habit, newspapers will continue to see circulation numbers tumble and advertising revenue dry up. This one demographic shift in readership will kill a newspapers business model and condemn them to the status of a 20th century relic.

Jay Moonah

Jose, it's interesting you bring up Grande Prairie -- I know you'll remember as I do that weekday edition of the Herald Tribune (I think it was Wednesday) that was bloated with ads and flyers, to the point where it was a comparable size to the largest and heaviest daily newspaper editions here in Toronto. I actually often site that as one specific example of why I think newspapers WILL survive in many communities for a great number of years to come -- growing places like Grande Prairie, where the local paper is still the best way to reach the broad community.

At any rate, I look forward to reading this series. I know we agree on many points about the newspaper _business_ (in fact I may even take a harsher view than you on the sad lack of innovation within the big media conglomerates) so I'll be interested to see how you extend that conversation.

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